February 4, 2014: When we were originally planning this trip (as well as the one we took in April last year) our target destination was El Nido on Palawan Island. But it was still another two days of cruising further south from our current position. As our time was running short, El Nido would have to wait yet again. Culion was our turning point.
This morning we were up and on our way just as dawn was breaking. The water was almost glassy as we rewound our way back through the pearl farms and headed northeast toward Coron Island and Coron Pass, the channel of water separating it from Busuanga Island.
The water was clear along Coron’s rugged coast, except for random items floating along. In just a short distance we spotted the following: one Tide pouch, one bleach bottle, one square plastic lid from a tub of biscuits, one condom wrapper, one soda bottle, several food wrappers, a couple of candy wrappers, one chunk of plywood, one chunk of styrofoam, one styrofoam cup, two coconuts, several pieces of bamboo fencing, one coffee cup, some plastic twine, one plastic slipper (flip flop), too many plastic bags to count and one tennis ball. And that was just the stuff we could identify.
Chris and I took turns at the helm, spelling each other off on the hour and we made good time to Tara Island, a distance of about 40 nautical miles up the east coast of Busuanga. With the water here incredibly clear, we could see the sandy bottom 50 feet below our keel, where a solitary blue seastar was hanging out. It made anchoring a breeze.
Within a few minutes we had the kayaks in the water and were ready to explore a couple of small islets sitting just offshore. On one, we found a beautiful white sand beach and went shell collecting. On the far side, the water was so clear that Chris fell right out of his kayak as he tried to peer into its depths.
It was an idyllic day in idyllic surroundings. There was a small fishing village across the narrow channel on Tara Island and one or two small bancas in the waters nearby. We could see a group of young school children walking home from school along the opposite shore, but we had the islets to ourselves. I wonder how long before a developer snaps up land on Tara Island and a big resort takes over.
Back on MOKEN, Chris donned scuba gear and took the plunge to scrape off barnacles and other critters making themselves right at home on the hull. I jumped in with snorkel gear and a garden glove to work along the waterline. At least the hull would be clean for our trip across to Mindoro in the morning and on to Subic the next day.
With no Internet here to check the weather forecast, we had our fingers crossed that today’s perfect weather and calm seas would continue. We didn’t want a repeat of the snotty weather on our trip down.